Since early this year, Americans of Conscience has been collaborating with local nonprofits in southwest Georgia, an area hit hard by the pandemic due to systemic racial discrimination, unequal education, inadequate health care, food deserts, and more.
Despite such hardships, the people of this community are innovators. It is a deep honor to build partnerships with organizations solving these entrenched challenges. A Better Way Grocers is one of them. Run by Tiffany and Tommy Terrell, they deliver fresh produce in a converted school bus to rural communities where none is available.
Upon being introduced through Sherrell Byrd at SOWEGA Rising, Tiffany and I took our time to build trust and develop one strategy to expand their efforts. In a July Checklist, we were delighted to promote their fundraiser to convert a larger bus to deliver food.
You were amazing. Not only in your financial support, but also the encouraging messages you wrote. Together, we raised $11,074. A kind donor (who prefers to be anonymous) matched $10,000, bringing A Better Way Grocers the entire amount needed for the new bus conversion.
After our August sabbatical, I caught up with Tiffany. If you need a boost, keep reading.
“I thought the bus conversion would be done in 45 days and that we’d have air conditioning for the summer,” Tiffany told me. She’s handling the bus remodel project while also running a daycare center, launching a collaboration with local chefs to promote healthy eating, and delivering community education along with fresh produce in the Georgia summer heat.
Then she got COVID.
“I’m doing fine now,” she said. “I was just so tired, and I couldn’t remember things.”
A month later, she was back on her feet, only to encounter the challenges happening all over the country—understaffing due to Covid and worker shortages, as well as microchip shortages. “Every industry has been hit here, schools, grocery, restaurants.” This means most repair shops have long delays.
But there is good news to report. “The new bus is parked at the diesel mechanic business to have the engine maintenance done.” In July, they power washed the bus, got a new battery installed, and completed important maintenance on the cooling system (photos and updates here).
In the meantime, Tiffany is collaborating with the local technical college on the bus conversion project. “The construction department at Albany Technical College will have young people build the bus interior shelving and storage. Then the electrical department will install the wiring.” She also secured a city-approved place to park both of their buses permanently.
On the outside, A Better Way Grocers appears to deliver produce to a food desert. But the Terrells are actually encouraging people to claim their right to delicious, high-quality nutrition. “Not everyone in my community understands what we’re trying to do. This is about serving the people, addressing food apartheid head on, and being a resource for community education.”
The week that Americans of Conscience promoted their bus-conversion fundraiser, Tiffany watched the GoFundMe page in awe. “I’m an optimistic person, but even I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support from all over the world. We got donations from every state.”
The impact was huge.
“It’s so hard starting a new business. To have people all over the country supporting what we do…” Tiffany was emotional and took a moment to find the words. “You gave us a leg up. I can’t wait to show you and your community the remarkable transformation they are helping us make.”
At Americans of Conscience, our mission is to provide tools that encourage engagement. It’s not just making cold calls to your elected officials. The heart of our work is being neighborly to all people and creating positive, liberating change.
So forget the headlines for a moment and pause to recognize that for our neighbors in southwest Georgia, you are doing that. We create positive, liberating change together.
To be continued!